UK’s death toll has been reported at 4313 people today. Britain has virtually shut down — people are being strongly urged to stay home unless leaving is absolutely essential. But shutting down the country means shuttering the economy, with concerns that the damage will be overwhelming if innovative solutions are not thought up quickly.
“We want to move to a situation where at least by the end of May we’re able to substitute some less intensive measures, more based on technology and testing, for the complete lockdown we have now,” Neil Ferguson, a professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, told BBC Radio.
To do this, the UK plans to issue “immunity passports” to people who have built up immunity to the coronavirus, allowing them to leave lockdown and return to their normal lives.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “people who have had the disease have got the antibodies and then have immunity can show that and therefore get back as much as possible to normal life.” It is still not clear exactly how these tests will be run and how precise they will be.
Hancock said at a Downing Street press conference, “the early results of some of them [the tests] have not performed well…but we hope the later tests we have got are reliable enough for people to be confident in using.”
Germany is also looking closely at the possibility of using immunity passports to release people from lockdown. People who are immune “could be given a type of vaccination card that, for example, allows them to be exempted” from “restrictions on their work” said Gerard Krause, the German epidemiologist leading the project.
Australia, a few steps behind the rest of the world in this pandemic, may be watching closely to see if these tests prove effective in the near future.